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Government seeking funds to reopen Dallas Dhu

Silent Scotch whisky distillery Dallas Dhu could be set to restart production as the Scottish Government “explores opportunities” for investment.

Dallas Dhu Distillery in Moray. © Crown Copyright HES

Historic Environment Scotland (HES), which manages the site in Forres, Moray, has submitted a public notice “inviting proposals from any interested parties” to develop the Speyside distillery.

This is not the first time the site has been considered for reopening. In September 2015, the Scottish Government said it was assessing the feasibility of the project.

Dallas Dhu was first established in 1899 by entrepreneur Alexander Edward, but has not produced whisky since 1983 when it closed due to water shortage.

Initially used to produce liquid for the Roderick Dhu blend in the early 20th century, Dallas Dhu has had a turbulent history. Closed during the First World War and then acquired in 1921, the distillery was again closed following the Great Depression and almost ruined by fire a few years later.

HES, an agency of the Scottish Government, currently runs the site as a visitor’s centre and museum.

A spokesperson for HES said: “We have recently published a public contract notice inviting expressions of interest in exploring opportunities at Dallas Dhu.

“Given the unique nature of the site, we are keen at this stage not to limit the scope of potential interest, so interested parties can apply either on their own, or as part of a group, as well as submitting ideas for different parts of the site.

“The aim is to look at opportunities to explore different options to build on Dallas Dhu’s distinct heritage and offering, to encourage opportunities for use which will enhance the site and its existing visitor offer.

“Once ideas have been submitted we will then move to create a shortlist and explore the ideas in more detail.”

Scottish politician Richard Lochhead welcomed the move after lobbying for the site to be brought back into production for several years.

In a Facebook post this morning (20 August), Lochhead said: “I’m delighted that at long last Historic Environment Scotland are seeking external investment to write a new chapter in Dallas Dhu’s story.

“I’ve had several meetings about this in recent years to press for the site’s potential to be developed to make a bigger contribution to the local economy to make the most of having such a wonderful distillery on our doorstep.

“This is an exciting prospect for the Speyside and Moray economy and offers massive potential to develop one of the country’s most successful and stunning visitor attractions.”

In July 2016, Lochhead campaigned for Diageo to transfer ownership of Dallas Dhu distillery to the government in order to bring it back into production.

A number of mothballed or silent Scotch whisky distilleries have restarted production in the past year.

In October, Diageo announced a £35 million (US$46m) investment to revive two cult distilleries, Port Ellen and Brora.

This was followed by the news that Lowland distillery Rosebank in Falkirk would be revived by Ian Macleod Distillers.

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